Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Content convergence and the new world of PR

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 19, 2009

 

 Dan Crodella and his bowling ball

Dan Cordella and his bowling ball

 

I asked my friend and former Castle staffer Dan Cordella of Agency.com to review and weigh in on concepts regarding the role of public relations in a digital world. As a former in-house and PR agency pro, and current role as an interactive copywriter (and the words behind the new Skittles campaign), Dan has as broad a perspective on marketing channels as anyone I know. His thoughts below serve as our first-ever guest post. Enjoy.

 

 

 

Castle’s ideas about the convergence of four media, or content, channels for marketing (owned media, earned media, purchased media, social media) is spot on.

What people need to realize most of all is that social media is a two-way street. Don’t force a message on your consumers that they don’t want to hear. Or if it is a message that they don’t want to hear and you still need to tell it, explain why you are telling them that message. They will be appreciative of you listening and addressing their concerns.

The ones who do this best are JetBlue (customer bill of rights), Michael Dell (computer fires) and Southwest(general niceness). JetBlue specifically has done a great job with Twitter. I subscribe to that keyword on my Twitter feed. For example, they sent a ton of updates to people on their way to the SXSW interactive festival wishing them a good trip – just awesome.

As someone who works with offline agencies all the time, I can’t stress enough the importance of collaboration from the start when integrating all content channels.

Owned media: Direct can be interactive. It doesn’t have to be a straight messaging banner or an ad. Digital provides people a unique opportunity to have an experience, not just receive a message. Best of all, the consumer can have that experience in the medium (or web page) they prefer. They don’t even have to click through in order to book a flight, play a game, etc.

Earned media: Bloggers and brand advocates should be mandatory in PR outreach. Giving an established advocate a chance to sample/test your product early will go a long way in terms of free media exposure.

Purchased media: This is a great opportunity for behavioral and contextual targeting to deliver a more relevant message than ever.

Social media: Not a flavor of the week, social media is here to stay in some form or another. Consolidation will happen, but brands must be flexible and ready to move to the medium that it needs most. Too many people get stuck in the mindset of “we NEED to be a part of XXX.” The brands that are most successful are the ones that aren’t afraid to play in a new playground. Companies just need to be willing to try.

While a brand could be hit with bad comments, the ones who get stuck with a negative perception are the ones that don’t have a conversation. Social media provides a unique place where negatives can be addressed and turned into positives. Why pay tens of thousands of dollars for a small room of people when social media gives you a virtually infinite free, easy and responsive focus group?

Search engine optimization needs to be in the mix as well, especially for smaller businesses. It’s a low-cost with high-result medium. 

Measurement is a needed tool for all channels, but the variables are very different on all of them. I never bought into the ad equivalency measurement so many PR companies do. I did a lot of measurement for my prior agency, and really thought the true benefit was breaking coverage down by type, audience, publication, message, etc. The clients loved it and that method helped us actually sell in strategy for the next year. Social media gives companies all sorts of new measurement, though interpretation is still subjective. Measurement tools like Nielsen BuzzMetrics and others are starting to do a good job of measuring social media.

It makes all the sense in the world to combine these content channels, or at least make sure they are delivering the same message. Of course, all efforts are null and void if you don’t create good content.

 

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One Response to “Content convergence and the new world of PR”

  1. filthyfowl said

    Which one is the bowling ball and which one is Dan?

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